Point-of-Work & ADDIE? Say It Ain’t So…

My recent post  70:20:10 – Myth or Legend? roused a few readers to offer up some really solid comments, and there were a few that left me feeling like I was at a NASCAR race and just shouted “Ford Rules!” Now if you’ve never been to a NASCAR race, let me tell you this about that…every fan has a favorite make of car and nothing shall come between them and their brand…except maybe a case of Budweiser! And so it seems is also true with training design models. And rumor has it that with enough tequila, even the hard-core will abandon ADDIE. But should they?

Personally, I do not give a flying rip what methodology one chooses to use. A training design methodology will only yield a training solution, and that’s perfectly great if all you’re after is POTENTIAL. Sorry…am getting cranked up already, and I promised myself this would not become a rant….

For the last 15 of my 35+ years in the L&D discipline, I’ve been tracking on something different – PERFORMANCE – and performance only manifests at Point-of-Work.

It took me 20 years to finally “get it” in that training was not going to sustain the performance of my workforce where it really mattered most to the company –@ Point-of-Work – the point where someone is going to DO something…take an action…make an entry in a business application…make a decision that either generates business value…protects it…or squanders it through loss, waste, liability, or explosion. THAT is where I give a rip about the output of any solution design.

Therefore, my methodology…or yours…or anyone else’s only matters a whit IF…repeat …IF…holistic discovery has been accomplished at Point-of-Work to determine the who, what, when, where, and why performance is impeded or restricted.

Many training design models exist and as much as we might slather on more lipstick, it’s still training design. Return to your homes, there is nothing to see here.

Want in on a little secret?

They are all based upon freaking ADDIE! I’m serious…look really closely…

I can almost hear the boo-birds now. ADDIE? Are you kidding me? He’s nuts! Dude, that worn out model came from the military back in the 60s.

True, true and true. But before you get all raked up in a pile, consider this…

Yeah, it’s old. But to be honest, if you dig deep enough into any of the new models, the same basic building blocks or phases take place regardless of what shade of lipstick is smeared on it.

Even the performance paradigm I write about is grounded in ADDIE…at least after the discovery phase. Now THAT is a confession I thought I’d never make!

Hear me out!

The “A” is NOT ANALYSIS as in training needs assessment; rather, it is a performance assessment…done by a 70:20:10 Performance Detective, or a performance consultant, or a performance ninja at the Point-of-Work focused on People, Process, Content, Technology, and Measurement.

And to be bluntly honest, everything else…the D-D-I-E that follows…has evolved in a very big and beautiful way that is often under-leveraged and defaults to training solutions because we whiffed on discovery with the “A”. Even so, in it’s evolution it is still D-D-I-E at the core.

DESIGN? Absolutely, but the design should be INTENTIONAL DESIGN that is intentionally focused on both learning AND performance across all 5-moments of need and at the Point-of-Work.

DEVELOPMENT? Bingo, right again! Now it might be in smaller increments so I can pilot test at the Point-of-Work and iterate based on feedback. Yeah, I might revisit design again to fine-tune, but hey…that’s what AGILE is all about isn’t it?

IMPLEMENT? Certainly, and implementation is tied to the incremental development phase. Also, I’m implementing solutions closer to the Point-of-Work…if not embedded within the workflow itself using a number of spiffy new Digital Performance Support (DPS) technologies.

EVALUATE? Yeah buddy. Like a big dog! And I’m evaluating from the get-go…from performance assessment to feedback on my agile incremental solution pilots to post-training ROI. I’m evaluating if the assets are effective at Point-of-Work? If they are relevant to the work requirements at Point-of-Work? If they are accessible at the Moment of Need…at the Point-of-Work? And even more exciting, I’m now laser focused on the results of ACTION by the workforce at Point-of-Work in the form of Actor – Verb – Object courtesy of xAPI and a boat load of analytics potential stuffed into my Learning Record Store (LRS).

Shocking right? ADDIE’s got some new clothes.

“ADDIE? Is that you? Seriously, child, you look like you’ve lost a little weight. Looking lighter on your feet. You go, agile girl! Always young, right?”

Funny how so much change remains the same underneath.

Firstly, I’m not convinced we’ve really changed our approach as much as we’re finally catching up to what technology has afforded us. Solutions do look a little different, but down deep ADDIE was used regardless of what we’ve called it.

Secondly, methinks we are finally “getting it” in the sense that our traditional training paradigm can’t match the pace of change and velocity of business demand. Despite clutching our Articulate licenses to our chests like a flotation device in a water landing, someone somewhere gets it and realizes…Damn, all I needed was a downloadable PDF!

Thirdly, it matters not what we call or label anything. It’s not Ford or GM or Toyota. It’s not which methodology we trust. What DOES matter is business performance at Point-of-Work…and doing our discovery homework up front. That means the “A” in ADDIE becomes a really big deal. And that’s why I’m a fan of 70:20:10…the “A” is treated as a really big deal…ask any Performance Detective.

Gary G. Wise
Performance Strategist – Coach
(317) 437-2555
LinkedIn Profile

  1. October 30, 2017 at 10:36 am

    This was awesome to read Gary! I have been saying a lot of this myself for some time now and it has gone on deaf ears.

    I would love to hear your take on the effects of social learning towards improving performance at the point of work.

    • October 30, 2017 at 10:41 am

      You mean the “20” in 70:20:10? You are right, it takes a village!

  2. Jos Arets
    October 30, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    Hi Gary, like your blog and you may appreciate my 5 myths blog here: https://elearningindustry.com/5-myths-about-70-20-10

  3. yuvarajah
    October 30, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    Analysis is the beginning to any solution. Without it, you will not find the target and only shooting aimlessly. So is TNA – the beginning of the end. Get it wrong and you are screwed. There is an ethical value and accountability in why we perform a TNA – to identify and distinguish between training and non-training solutions. Unfortunately, many involved in selling ‘snake oil’ aren’t bothered about ascertaining whether training (particularly, non technical skills) will produce actual improvement in behaviour and/or performance. For them, everything is a training solution because they have resigned to blame the employee for poor performance and deflect accountability away from lip service leadership. This is why training has very low causality impact in non technical/soft skill areas (e.g leadership). What it addresses, at best is wishful “wants” by superiors and to lend evidence to having invested in “talent development”. As you rightly pointed out, nobody gives two hood about measuring real impact at the point of work. And, this is a million to trillion dollars industry. Has it improved employee engagement, productivity and financial performance?

  4. Gerry Fish
    November 1, 2017 at 6:26 am

    I’m a little more rural than you are, Gary. Out here we have tractor pulls all summer. I swear there are guys that bleed John Deere green! 😆
    Thanks for your insights. They are refreshing in the very stale world of corporate training. I still see so many training project postings that specify ADDIE as a requirement – not that they have any formal methodology for following through with it! All too often it’s just a buzzword. I completely agree that everyone does ADDIE to some degree (whether or not they actually call it that).
    As you said, the biggest place training initiatives fall short is in the Analysis. Too often the focus is on the clicks – “this menu option does that” – and we expect learners to figure out how to apply it to their real life (and stay awake through the boring training!). The focus must be on the end user: what do I need to do to perform my job, when and how?! That’s all they want/need to know! The problem is that too often on big system projects, training is brought in late to the game and has no time to do a thorough analysis of the needs – so you get system training not job performance training.
    Lately we have seen all kinds of new tools to create flashy, interactive, multi-media, social training assets. So we’ve made great progress with D-D-I. All too often, however, developers are just building the same kind of ineffective training with slicker new tools!
    The real reason training has been done so poorly all these years is because we really fall down on the E! Yeah, we get the smile sheets art the end of the class but how many training programs actually measure their effectiveness at the point of use? I work mostly on enterprise training programs and by the time the system goes live – late and over budget – no one wants to spend more time and money to evaluate the training program. The team is dismantling the work room and all the consultants are going home. Turn out the lights, the party is over!
    Do you know how to make trainers and training developers appreciate performance-based training? Let them work support for a few weeks after go-live! Then they will experience where training comes to life – or where it’s exposed and falls flat on its face! Then maybe – just maybe – they will do a little more Analysis into how users really perform their jobs in their next training program!
    So I’m totally with you on this, Gary! Thanks for your insights and for beating the performance drum! It’s the only way training will ever be truly useful and effective where it counts!

    • November 1, 2017 at 7:16 am

      Hey Gerry, thanks for taking the time to leave a solid comment and your thoughts. I’m not so sure about “more rural than me” however; given I live in Batesville, Indiana a town of 6,000 and surrounded by soybean and corn. I drive an hour to city civilization to get to work. I’m one of the few who does not swear when caught behind a combine or a corn picker lumbering down a one-lane country road. I too have dealt many times with the late invitation to the business application GoLive party and had to deal with not enough time to build something sustainable. It’s an epidemic. I love your solution though…every one should have to work for ONE DAY on the Help Desk where training’s failures land in the lap of a service tech over and over and over. What a powerful lesson that would be to learn first hand. Sadly, if the senior leadership cannot embrace the power of a performance orientation nothing significant will change. It has to begin at the top and that’s where I’ve been most successful in planting the seeds to embrace a change. So much money is spent making slicker training that sizzles and issuing badges and feel good iconic marks of accomplishment that only gauge training progress…not work capability. The battle continues though…too important to bail out now. Thanks for your kind and encouraging words, Gerry!.

  5. Rich
    November 1, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Keep in mind that ADDIE is just a conventional shorthand for the design process. There is no validated -internal or external – ADDIE model. No author. No scholarship. Just something we accept. I wouldn’t rely on saying it’s just ADDIE.

    • November 1, 2017 at 11:42 am

      True enough, Rich, and at the core we find ADDIE as a design process wrapped in other formally named approaches; hence the lipstick comment I made. It’s funny to me how many look for something different to unlock the code to building better training solutions without considering that a training solution is not…nor never could/should be considered a viable sustainable solution. We hunger for a new model…but what we need is a new lens to look through.
      Thanks for sharing your comment!

  6. November 6, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Rich, actually, the ADDIE model has been used by the U.S. military for over 45 years. That said, the military departments have formal policies and guidance on using the ADDIE ID model (Note: The Army has officially adopted the PADDIE). The recognized “author” of the generic 5-stage ISD model (aka ADDIE) was Dr. Robert Gagne. I know this from my research on the ADDIE in the U.S. military while conducting a literature review for my dissertation where I found the contract award from the Air Force to Florida State University [and Gagne] in the mid-60’s that resulted in the Air Force Manual (AFM) on ISD in 1970 (AFM 50-2). That generic 5-step ISD model was affectionately known as the ADDIE (circa mid-80’s).

    BTW…to Gary’s point about “training was not going to sustain the performance”, I can tell you unequivocally, in the U.S. military, that training will not only sustain performance, but improve performance. That’s one reason why our U.S. military is the best “trained” in the world.

    • November 6, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Thanks, Jolly!
      I researched ADDIE as well. I belief it was in the 60s the military created it. I do stand by my assertion however that formal training alone cannot sustain capability there has to be additional reinforcement at Point-of-Work for that to happen effectively. Field exercises. Scenario-based activities, etc. All of those interventions have to be intentionally design to emulate real situations and circumstances. I doubt the military, as thorough and exacting as they are, would design formal training not designed around real actions. And that is my core point. We have accomplish holistic discovery before building training component to embed real work for the sake of learning continuity. Thanks for reading and sharing great info

  7. November 6, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    FYI…the military did not create the ADDIE, however, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army submitted a statement of work (SOW) for a systematic approach to the training process. That SOW and subsequent contract was awarded to Florida State University (circa mid 60’s). The military manuals that followed did not specifically state ADDIE, but instead a 5-step approach to ID.

    My first exposure to the ADDIE, while on active duty, was at the Air Force Academic Instructor School where they referred to this 5-step ID process as simply the “ADDIE”. That was in the mid 80’s, and given the tendency for the military to create acronyms, I’m sure the acronym was used well before then, especially considering the first military ISD manual was published in the late 60’s.

    As a former Air Force flight instructor and flight evaluator, the formal training of an Air Force aviator encompasses ~15-months, consisting of traditional classroom training, part task trainers and CBT, followed by flight simulators and lastly, the aircraft. However, even after all of the formal training, there is continuous continuing education/training that includes classroom and simulators. The actual field exercises are the application of what they learned, and to your point, do simulate real world situations, as in the Navy’s Top Gun school and the Air Force Red Flag exercises. As the old saying goes, you do not rise to your level of expectations, but fall to your level of training.

  1. November 5, 2017 at 4:31 am

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